Tag Archive | faith

Lessons Learned from Writing: Divine Fun

Now, why did I start this series of posts with this one? Because initially when I started writing in 2009 and understood nothing much about the craft, I had fun. So much fun! I believed God told me to write that November for National Novel Writing Months (nanowrimo.org). When I started I was fearless because I didn’t know any better. I had a blast finally writing the story I wanted to write: The Virtuous Viscount. I’d started years ago on paper and I think I scared myself. But God called and I obeyed.

I wrote a lot of words in 21 days – more than winning two NaNoWriMos. I was exhilerated and in my ignorance thought I’d written a wonderful tome. I cut my teeth as an author on that novel and still love the story.

So I had fun and thought that was it. I was a stay-at-home mom and lived in the country and served in Women’s Ministry at my church and didn’t have much interaction with those who didn’t share my faith in Jesus. I reached out during that month and connected with another stay-at-home mom in my community. We both crossed the finish line and I reached out again to suggest we get together. I gave her my real name, not the name on NaNo and she responded.

She was a friend from high school I’d been praying for, for over twenty years. Wow. Just wow. We connected in person along with others from back then and I heard many sad stories. Now my own story wasn’t that wonderful as I was in a difficult marriage, but I listened and loved. I was newer to Facebook in those days and invited my friend to connect with me there.

She remembered my strong faith in high school and even though I didn’t usually post spiritual stuff then, I was usually more silly, she told me it was as if God was poking her in the shoulder with every post I made. She understood my life was challenging. She was aware of my ministry work, and never once did I talk to her about Christ. She was well aware of the truth she’d turned her back on years ago. I was just being silly old me.

God led her back to Himself. She said later that she believes the only reason she was to write that November was to reconnect with me so God could get a hold of her. She joined a church, she led worship, she’s taken a theology class that I taught, and she made dramatic life changes. Life has been challenging for her in the process, but she’s stood firm.

I thought I was just having fun—but God had a bigger plan.

Her name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life long before my humble gothic regency ever saw the light of day in print.

So go ahead and have fun. Enjoy life. If God calls you to do something unusual because it might be fun? Do it! You may never know the heart you may touch just by being yourself in those moments.

“Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” Saint Francis of Assisi.

What kind of fun might God be calling you to? Don’t dismiss it as frivlolous–He may have a bigger plan than you realize.

All Understanding

I was cleaning up a workspace that had been left for over three years. I tossed out so many boxes of garbage! It felt soo good tossing them into our wood stove/boiler. I even found some things that I’d thought were lost forever.

This was a poem I wrote back in the spring of 1990. I was so young back then, but it still speaks to me. Maybe you’ll enjoy it as well.

All Understanding

Broken people

Broken hearts

The sin of our parents

Now tearing us apart

Satan doesn’t have to work too hard

The damage has been done

The patterns long established

Started before our lives had begun

Yet Lord, You give the courage

To help us right our past

Convicting us about our status quo

You bring healing and peace that surpasses all understanding

So we struggle

With hurts from long ago

Satan has to work harder now

He doesn’t want to let us go

Yet we belong to Jesus

Our hearts washed white as snow

We are cleaning out our closets

The skeletons must go

Yet Lord, You bring the strength

As we change our wrongful ways at last

Encouraging us by Your Spirit

Bringing healing and a peace that surpasses all understanding

You understand us, Lord

More than we ever could ourselves

With compassion, You look upon us

As You bring us to Yourself

Your love abounding always

Though we slip and fall at times

Your grace still reaching out to us

A love that doesn’t constrict or bind

Lord, continue to give us the stamina

To change the grains of time

Gifting us with wisdom and patience

Bring healing and peace that surpasses all understanding.

Have a beautiful week trusting in Him.

One Word: Empowered

I have a heavy writing schedule this year and part of that terrifies me. For the most part, over the years when I’ve written it has been because I wanted to–not because I needed to. When I focus, like with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month nanowrimo.org) I can write fast and finish a full-length novel or at least go over the 50,000-word goal for the month. But now I have a contract for four more books and I need to write, write, write.

I prayed about this before agreeing to this contract. Part of the challenge is that I’m co-authoring with a dear friend, DeeDee Lake. But our lives and schedules sometimes conflict for even basic brainstorming of ideas. We’ve set up a schedule for how things pass between us but then there’s this thing we can’t account for called LIFE.

I usually pick one word for the year and this year it is: Empowered. I cannot accomplish these tasks on my own and I want to make sure that in the process of doing this I don’t miss what’s really important in life: time with my husband, kids, friends, and family. My dad died in October and maybe I’ll write about that another time, but it drove home to me the importance of making every day count.

I select Scriptures to put on my screen savers so I’m constantly reminded of my dependence on God for these tasks. The first uses a verse from 2 Corinthians 9:8 which says: “And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may exalt in every good work.” (HCSB)

The second uses a verse from 2 Timothy 1:9 which proclaims: “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (HCSB)

I don’t know what you’re struggling with today. But maybe those Scriptures can help. I’ve found that when I’m overwhelmed by the tasks the best thing I can do is write them down and pray and ask God: What would you have me do next? And then do it. One task at a time.

I’ve accomplished a lot in January because God has enabled me to. I’ve been frustrated at what I couldn’t do sometimes due to circumstances out of my control so after I have my own little internal temper tantrum because things didn’t go according to my plan, I pray and adjust my goals for that day, week, and maybe even month.

I had hoped to start writing last week on a novel but didn’t get the information I needed. So today, I’ll be working on a different project I had planned for later in the year. I shuffled my schedule and plans around and have built-in buffers because so much, wait, really ALL of life is beyond my control. So I will pray, focus and get to work to do what He has led me to do and trust Him for the outcome.

What is overwhelming you? Can you lean on God to empower you? He does give us more than we can bear simply so we need to lean on Him. Our Lord is faithful and generous in His grace and mercy to us! Embrace that and press on. Do you have one word for the year? Why is it important to you, I’d love to hear about it.

Spatzle Speaks: Sunflowers and Suspicions Book Review

My mom’s at it again, reading books and my “adopted” brother Benji keeps getting in the way of my snuggles. That doesn’t stop me from having an opinion about Karen Malley’s latest Pine Springs romance Sunflowers and Suspicions!

Being a twin must be hard at times. Julie Wagner firmly believes something is wrong with her sister Jade so she heads to the big city to track her down. Jade’s neighbor, Matt Callahan from across the hall is the first person to be able to tel lt hem apart. But where has Julie’s sister disappeared to?

Matt is willing to help as he becomes enchanted by Julie. Soon his entire family is equally enchanted with her. But can they find Jade? Tracking down the mystery takes them on a journey fraught with danger and intrigue. The biggest danger is to Julie’s heart as she thinks Matt is really in love with her sister.

I don’t want to give too much away but this multi-layered story will keep you reading till the very end! Matt and Julie are compelling characters and the backstory for all of them kept me turning the pages.

I highly recommend Sunflowers and Suspicions by Karen Malley! I give it five bones becuse I’m a dog and that’s how I roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

The Value of a Day

I’m a proactive worrier. A planner. I want to understand all the contingencies and be ready.

Life doesn’t always allow that though and nothing I’ve worried about has ever come to pass. I’m not superstitious enough to believe that my anxieties and preparation had anything to do with that.

Worry robs me of peace and joy. It takes me out of the present into an invisible (to me) future.

Leaving worry aside and focusing on the here and now can bring me greater contentment. That is if I truly value the work I’m doing right now.

As I’ve grown older, (not grown up), I’ve had to re-think what’s important. I’ve always been a doer and getting things accomplished were a measure of my worth at least in my own myopic perspective.

God has brought me to a place where I can savor more of the less remarkable moments. Yes, I sometimes make a list of all I’ve done to reassure myself that I wasn’t lazy at the end of the day when I don’t have anything tangible to show for the time that’s passed.

Getting work done around the house, completing projects and even finishing a book or having one come out are all tasks that recycle. They never end. There’s always more laundry to do. The dogs track in mud on a freshly washed floor, my daughter needs something for school right away and the grass keeps growing and when that stops the snow will keep me busy. When the kids were younger I struggled to find value in keeping them clean, clothed, and fed. And there are more stories and books in my head than I can possible accomplish in the time God has given me today.

While I still need do all the necessities of daily life, cleaning, grocery shopping, looking after kids, paying bills, helping my husband, and doing contracted writing/editing/teaching work, I’ve found that sometimes the seemingly smaller things are more important:

  • My time with God each day.
  • Hanging out with my dying father even while he sleeps.
  • Giving my mom a break so she can get away from the 24/7 burden of caring for my dad.
  • Playing mini-golf with my husband or sitting and watching television together and date nights.
  • Spending time with my daughter shopping or working on something together.
  • Girls-night out (or in!)
  • Hosting the small group that meets in our home.
  • Having people over for dinner or playing cards.
  • Being aware of people around me wherever I go. Who would God have me bless?

I’m finding that while the daily stuff is important, making time for the eternal stuff, the relationships, is even more so. Even though I hope my stories will impact lives, encourage people to grow in faith, or see the world a little differently, and they may outlast me, I firmly believe relationships are more important than all of it. When I teach writers I emphasize this often. Don’t overlook the people in the rush to accomplish a task. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

I like to get things done. But sometimes sitting back and valuing the moments in a day with another person, even if it is silence, has the greater value. It won’t happen unless I’m intentional about it.

I doubt I’ll ever have regrets about a dirty house, or a messy lawn when we are in the process of making changes. I won’t regret the dust that sits undisturbed. At the end of my life I won’t think about any of that. All that will matter are the people. If this were my last day on earth would I be happy about how I left the people around me? Would they know without a doubt how loved they were?

I’m not saying to abandon cleaning and caring for those around us and for the material possessions God has given us. I’m suggesting we find greater value in the people than things or tasks. It isn’t easy and I still don’t always do it well, but I’m growing in it.

What are you learning to value in your day?

Spatzle Speaks: Madi’s Secret (Book Review)

My mom wrote Madi’s Secret many years ago and then she forgot it was releasing. I think my brother, Benji, who has dementia has been distracting her. And then there are other life things going on too, much I don’t understand. Still, I really liked this book except there’s no dog in it. Really, mom?

So Madi comes back to Wisconsin with her teenage son, but she left without a trace a long time ago leaving the love of her life behind. He never really understood where she was or why she’d left.

Parker had moved on after a while and married, had a daughter and became a widow. As a paramedic he’d seen many challenging things but nothing challenged him as much as finding his long-lost love trapped in an upside down car on the side of the highway.

She was back. But why had she left? Why wouldn’t she tell him? And her son? Who was the father?

Could love reignite in the shadow of the secrets she hasn’t shared? Madi isn’t even sure what it is that she saw that has her hunted by unknown evil. She returned to Wisconsin because she believed God was leading her back. But would she survive that obedience? And would God ever give her a relationship with Parker once the truth came out?

I recommend this book. Sure, it was written by my mom, but I know she pours herself into these stories. Check it out. It’s in ebook only for now but hopefully it will come out in print soon!

I give this book five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Whitney’s Vow Book Review

Mom has been busy getting the garden in and wouldn’t log me on so I could post a review of her very own book! As a dog it’s hard for me to type in the password to her laptop.

Mom told me that her author friend, Loree Lough had posted this photo (on the right here) on Facebook and stated that it looked like the cover of a romance novel. Mom thought Loree should write it but then opted to make the attempt herself.

Whitney’s Vow is the end result. A romantic suspense which is a newer genre for mom although most of her Gothic Regencies have those elements as well as some of her contemporary romances. Her publisher gave it a different cover which I think looks great.

Let me tell you a little about Whitney’s Vow. First of all Whitney was raised in a more affluent household but going to a public college cut her off from the purse strings of her parents and there she met Blake Anderson. They began their marriage on a beach along with four other friends from college.

Fast forward seven years and Whitney stays home at Rebel Falls Ranch in Montana, manages to make quilts, read books, garden and ride horses. Oh, and she’s a crack shot as well. Blake, however, is often gone for stretches of time doing some kind of undercover military operations with his team. Whitney is clueless about those operations, much less the actual day to day of running the ranch or their finances.

All of that comes to a head when she is informed that Blake is dead and that their beloved ranch is being forclosed on. The only way out is with an arranged marriage set up by her father. Whitney doesn’t want to remarry. She’s desolate…and vulnerable.

Blake is not dead and returns home just in time to stop the wedding and together they begin to unravel the lies and deception that brought them to that point. Whitney learns a lot about the ranch, and her husband’s military operations and undergoes a torturous journey to their happily ever after. Whitney becomes a part of the solution instead of a victim and I am happy to state she gets a dog too! (My favorite part!). Of course I’m biased and think you should read this book…but I will warn you, you might not be able to put it down! I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I role!

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: An Escape for Ellie (Book Review)

Susan Karsten has released her third and final installment in the Honor’s Point Regency series, An Escape for Ellie. If you’ve enjoyed her series to date, you’ll not want to miss the final installment!

Ellie has been seeking shelter at Honor’s point, avoiding an unwanted engagement, but it seems her location has been discovered so she runs away and right in the carriage of Lord Dare and his sweet aunt.

Without giving away her story, she engages to become a companion to this older woman. She reads stories to her by day and writes them at night because she’s a budding novelist.

Lord Dare, however, is not so sanquine about the new addition to his household. His own love betrayed he struggles to resist the winning and sweet Ellie.

With unspoken secrets on the part of all three, and a devious plot by her parents, adventure lies ahead. Will Ellie and Lord Dare find their way to true love in spite of the obstacles? And when the truth is revealed by everyone, can love prevail?

My mom really enjoyed this series and loved this final installment so you’ll want to get a copy! I give it five bones because I’m a dog, and I don’t have thumbs or do stars.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Love Stumbled In (Book Review)

Love Stumbled In by [Nancy Shew Bolton]

Nancy Shew Bolton has written Love Stumbled In, another amazing historical romance filled with twists and turns that will keep you reading.

Set post-World War 1, the 1920’s are fraught with injury and loss due to a flu epidemic. Carrie is orphaned and has to go live with relatives who are so distant she didn’t really know them. They took her in and soon more deaths followed that home leaving the five brothers (one an adult) to look after their distant cousin.

Carrie struggles with a limp and an unrequited love with one of the boys who ends up leaving. Taking a job in a wealthy home to care for a disabled young woman, she finds herself struggling with broken dreams and and just what she wants to do with her life.

This is a wonderful piece of fiction and takes you back to a time when things were simpler but not so much when it comes to the human condition. My mom had a hard time putting this book down so you’re going to want to read it too! I give it five bones!

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Following the Sparrows (Book Review)

My mom met a new author, Karen Malley, last year and discovered she has a fabulous skill for story-telling. She was late posting this because we adopted another old dog (I’m not THAT old). Benji’s been keeping us busier than usual! So here is Following the Sparrows by Karen Malley!

Kathryn Baker has a secret. Not even her husband knows but it’s been a struggle for them both. When her husband is killed in a tragic accident she works even harder hoping to make up for the sins of her past. A handsome stranger challenges everything she thought was true.

Adam Harrison has his own past to overcome but he’s clinging to Jesus and waiting for Him to reveal Adam’s purpose. Maybe it’s to help Katheryn to know God? But what if he falls in love with her? When will she share her dark secret?

Adam and Kathryn grow closer. A puppy dog, an accident, and a crisis of faith all complicate things and makes this a book you’ll want to keep reading. The great news is it is the first in a series of three books!

You won’t want to miss this one! I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll!

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.